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Stephenson shows why he’s the best

Times Staff Writers

LAS VEGAS -- Lance Stephenson, a muscular 6-foot-5, 200-pound guard from Lincoln High in Brooklyn, N.Y., is branding himself like a new shoe being unveiled.

He is high school basketball’s most recognizable player, following a path blazed by O.J. Mayo and Sebastian Telfair.

And he’s enjoying every minute of it.

“I love the media, because without the media I wouldn’t be Lance,” he said.

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Aided by Internet video showing his spectacular dunks and physical skills, Stephenson is the consensus No. 1 player in the nation.

This week, playing for the Raising Champions club team in the Adidas Super 64 tournament, Stephenson continues to prove he’s a man among boys.

On Wednesday, after the opening jump ball, he fired a behind-the-back pass to a teammate for a layup against Team Philly. He ended up fouling out, but finished with 18 points in an 80-75 loss. In a later game Wednesday, Stephenson scored 28 points in an 80-75 victory over the Michigan Mustangs.

Stephenson can do things others his age can’t because of his upper-body strength and athleticism. He’s from the same high school that produced Telfair and NBA guard Stephon Marbury.

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“It’s fun, but when you’ve been good since you were little, everybody wants to get after you,” he said. “Every time you play, they come hard. It’s tough being Lance Stephenson.”

Stephenson said he doesn’t intend to make a college decision until April and mentioned USC, UCLA, Kansas and North Carolina as schools he likes.

All signs point to his being a one-and-done from the class of 2009.

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Jordan Hamilton hopes his play for Team Odom in the Main Event doesn’t serve as a postscript to his prep career.

Although the Compton Dominguez High standout forward has already attended high school for four years, Hamilton’s father said he was optimistic that extenuating circumstances would compel the CIF Southern Section to grant his son a fifth year of eligibility.

Greg Hamilton said he intended to file a hardship waiver that would include an apology on behalf of L.A. Unified School District officials who declined to test Jordan for a learning disability when he was in the eighth grade. When Hamilton’s grades continued to slip during his freshman year, his father said he did not allow him to play basketball.

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The first title of the week went to D-One Sports, which won the Reebok Summer Championships Create-N-Finish Cup with a five-point overtime win over DC Triple Threat.

The Cup is a tournament created last year in an attempt to ensure that the top eight seeded teams get a chance to meet before play in the Open championship bracket begins.

D-One point guard John Wall averaged 26.3 points and 10 assists in three games en route to the title, putting him in early contention for most-outstanding-player honors.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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ON LATIMES.COM

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Basketblogging: Let Eric Sondheimer, Lance Pugmire and Ben Bolch keep you up on all the on- and off-court action from the Las Vegas basketball tournaments this week in their dispatches on the Varsity Times blog.


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